Texas Federal Wellness Health and Rehab is closing its doors after authorities arrested two of its operators and accused them of cheating a Department of Labor worker’s compensation program out of as much as $80 million.
A federal indictment alleges that between 2014 and 2019 Ricardo Cano, of McAllen, and Rosita Cano Meeks, of Edinburg, caused the clinics to submit inflated claims for therapy, made-up medical visits, excessive therapy, and fraudulent durable medical equipment.
Cano — who is not a physician — allegedly told employees to refer to him as being one and made an arrangement with an actual doctor that falsely gave him the appearance of being a physician in order to run the clinics.
“As part of the scheme, Cano allegedly coordinated with that physician to obstruct a Texas Medical Board inquiry into a complaint about Cano’s role in operating the clinics and submitting false corporate records,” a release from the United States Attorney’s Office says. “The indictment also alleges Cano transferred approximately $43 million from the Texas Federal Wellness Center clinics to various bank accounts in Cano’s name or in the name of clinics Cano controlled.”
An 18-count indictment charges Cano and Meeks with health care fraud and conspiracy to commit it, along with money laundering charges for Cano.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
Headquartered in Edinburg, the company also operated clinics in Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Donna, El Paso, Harlingen, Laredo, and McAllen.
It catered particularly to federal and state law enforcement, especially Border Patrol.
Despite the bad press, court documents filed earlier this month indicate that the company originally planned to stay open.
They described its current majority owner as not having been involved when the alleged fraud took place, describing its continued operation as “critical not only for the continued employment of the nearly 80 employees statewide, but also for the continuity of care for the thousands of federal employees who rely on Texas Federal for their physical therapy and other medical services.”
On Monday, however, the organization notified employees that operations were shutting down immediately.
“Your final paychecks will be processed and delivered to you as soon as possible. We thank you for your service over the years,” a letter from Ruth Jara, a managerial employee with the company, says. “Because of you, Texas Federal Wellness Health and Rehab has been able to provide its patients with exceptional medical and rehabilitation services. Through you (sic) hard work and effort, thousands of injured federal employees have been able to go back to work, and help protect this great country. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for everything you have done.”
A letter to patients informed them of the closure and instructed them to contact Jara to pick up their medical records.
The company’s Donna location appears to be closed already; the door was locked Tuesday and a banner above it advertised the space as available for lease.
The McAllen facility remained open Tuesday, although a letter taped by its door notified patients of the closure.
Calls to most of the company’s Rio Grande Valley locations went unanswered.
Jara herself answered — and promptly hung up on — calls to the company’s Edinburg location.
“Sir, we weren’t disconnected, I’m not interested in talking with you,” she said before hanging up a final time.